Inflation for Fun Things Is Making People Feel Worse About the Economy

Inflation for Fun Things Is Making People Feel Worse About the Economy


  • Even as inflation cools and the economy stays strong, people still feel uneasy about the current outlook.
  • That could be due to fun activities, like grabbing coffee or clothes shopping, staying expensive.
  • The price of going to a football game or concert, or even just taking care of pets, is rising quicker than inflation.

There’s a new lament on social media: It costs $100 just to leave the house

While perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, it’s a conundrum that may be one of the reasons everyone feels so bad about the economy, as seen in survey after survey.

Over the last few years, inflation has been a persistent menace in the economy and on Americans’ wallets. Now, price growth is slowing down, but not necessarily for the things Americans want.

In September, inflation held steady at 3.7% year-over-year, which is unchanged from August. But prices on things Americans want to do — like go to movie theaters, buy alcohol, or care for their pets — are still persistently high. For example, admissions to things like movies or concerts are up 10.4% year-over-year — and 18.9% to sporting events specifically, according to September’s Consumer Price Index release.

Those costs come at a difficult time for budget-conscious Americans. Student-loan payments are restarting, forcing many to reconsider their monthly spending. Dating is expensive. Making friends costs a lot. Even with wages going up, inflation is making it more costly to go out to eat or even Netflix and chill. No wonder people are so grumpy about the economy.

The country may not be in recession, but there is what’s been called a “vibecession.” Even if there’s not an economic downturn, Americans still feel dreary about how things are going.

A Suffolk University Sawyer Business School/USA TODAY poll of 1,000 Americans, taken from September 6 to 11, found that 70% of respondents said the economy was getting worse. Eighty-four percent of respondents said the cost of living is still rising, and around 70% were eating out less and cutting back how much they spent on clothes.

However, economic data — like the number of jobs the country is adding, and the number of job openings available to workers — shows that the economy is still booming. 

“I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record about this, but I will not tire of saying that we are seeing very, very strong economic growth as reflected in job growth,” Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su told Insider after the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment data.

Even as more Americans land jobs, high inflation has left some Americans in dire straits and disproportionately hits the country’s lowest earners. Forty-five percent of Americans surveyed by the Census Bureau for its Household Pulse Survey from August 23 to September 4, said price increases over the last two months were “very stressful,” and around 28% found them moderately stressful.

And 62% of those with a household income under $25,000 said price increases were “very stressful,” compared to 20% of those making $200,000 or more. Cooling prices will likely help ease some of those respondents’ stress.

But as long as prices on the things that people enjoy stay high, their sentiment could stay low, as it has throughout the robust recovery. Here’s a breakdown of how the inflation rate of “fun” activities compares to the overall CPI.


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